There was an amazing moment in clubs yesterday that I wanted to share with you:
Yesterday at Mother Caroline Academy, we piloted a single session “Sisterhood & STEM identity” curriculum module I designed this spring, with mentors‘ feedback, to be used in clubs when there is an extra week in the semester. The Question of the Day is, “Why is there Science Club for Girls?,” mentors share statistics on women in STEM with girls, girls get to interview mentors on their journeys in STEM, and then mentors do a similar interview with girls, with questions tailored to their age and hopes for their journey in STEM.
In one club (4th-5th grade, all African-American girls, one white and one African-American mentor), the mentors were sharing statistics with girls, and the girls’ incredulousness at each one was astounding. When mentors shared the statistic that “16% of college students are minority women,” girls were pretty upset: there was standing up, pounding on the table, exclamations of shock, etc. When mentors shared, “Of all the engineering degrees earned, only 3% of them are by women of color,” girls were even more riled up. The shock and simple rejection of the reality we adults have become accustomed or even resigned to is something I wish I could’ve bottled up – for me, for all of us.
THEN, the girls put it together that their African-American mentor is an engineer, and they broke into a huge moment of cheering and celebration for her. The girls ability to translate the implications of those statistics from devastation to hopefulness about the female engineers of color that have come before them was profound.
This seems an opportune moment to acknowledge the significance of the work each of us does at SCFG to bring about gender and racial equity in STEM, and specifically the efforts we make to recruit mentors and role models who resemble those girls we serve. Thank you, everyone, for the work you to do advance this agenda.
– This post is edited from an email from Boston Program Manager Corinne Jager to SCFG staff, April 7, 2016. We asked the mentor in this story (Camara Samuel, a senior engineer at Procter and Gamble) if we could share her photo and story; she added these words of her own about her experience:
“The most exciting part of this volunteer experience has been being able to share a passion for science and technology with a younger generation. A lot of the girls in the beginning didn’t see how the science they were learning in their classes could be relevant to the real world. The experiments we ran with them, along with sharing our working experience helped make it real for them. To girls and families thinking of signing up for the program, I would definitely encourage them to do so! It’s an opportunity to get girls thinking about their future careers, and also see real life examples of women in the field. To the mentors, I’d also encourage them to participate. You go in thinking you’ll teach the girls just about science, but come out learning a lot about yourself. The girls taught me the power of perseverance, along with bringing enthusiasm and confidence to any work that I tackle.”
Interested in becoming a volunteer mentor with SCFG? Click here to learn more and fill out an interest form.